Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review 40 - Unhiq XO Malt Rum

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
A 31 year... no, 25 year old. Oh wait, it's another Oliver & Oliver Solera. 
Good one though.
Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with malt whisky in any way. It is a rum. It has never seen malt whiskies or malt whisky casks, and did I mention it has nothing to do with malt whisky?

According to information found trawling the interwebs, the term ”Malt rum” was apparently used in old time Cuba to describe to best and most aromatic rums.

The Unhiq is yet another product from Oliver & Oliver operating in the Dominican Republic. They make a billion different rum, and this is one of the highest tier ones. At least if you use their prices as a guidance.

It is sold as being a 31 year old rum many places online – which seems like a little to good to be true. 

And it is.

According to the official webpage, it is a solera with up to 25 year old rums in the blend.
I haven’t been able to get hold of any information about what is actually put in the solera or what the span of the blended ages are. Neither do I have any information on the misunderstandings between the 25 and 31 year age statements.

You have to ask yourself: Does it really matter much, when we are talking about a solera?

All I could find was, that ageing has been done in old bourbon barrels – as usual. No information about the type of still used or the specific origin of the rum. I have sent enquiries to Oliver & Oliver to absolutely no prevail. Not even a ”thank you for your mail, we won’t tell you anything”.

The finished blend is bottled at 42% ABV, which is marginally above the standard 40%, which should make it bite a little bit more. I do applaud any rum which dares to break the mandatory 40% and try out for other proofs.

Apparently there has been/will be ”only” 6500 litres produced for the entire world. Bottled at 50 cl. that makes 13.000 bottles. That might still sound like a rarity, but it really isn’t. Not yet anyway. And I do not expect this particular rum to evolve into a collectors item. Read on for an explanation.

Taking it down from the shelf I get to hold a short and silver, but also quite flimsy card board box.

Tucked away inside is a short and almost cube shaped bottle. It does have some decanter-like properties, when you see how the rum seems to float inside the glass bottle.

Bottle is topped off by a natural cork with a classy, silver plastic stopper. Okay, maybe it’s not that classy. Sorry.

The label is a pretty. shiny, silvery thing. Doesn’t say much. Just the name of the rum. On the back however we do find a little more information.

The most interesting thing I found was the label on the back, which read ”bottle 405 from 3000 year 2014”. That implies that in 2014 they made 3000 bottled. Using the old noggin that is 1500 litres of the 6500 litres made. So it will take them 4 years and 4 months to reach the end of the stock – if the numbers hold. Since I have no way of actually knowing if the numbers are true or not, I’ll just leave it at that.

I don’t know what to use the information ”lot 3309” for – perhaps some of my handful of readers might know. If you do, please let me know, as I appreciate being schooled on stuff I don't know.

A fun addition is the wooden base with classy, silver elastic bands to keep the bottle from suddenly taking a nose dive down from its wooden pedestal. Okay, maybe the elastic bands are not that classy after all either. My bad. Again.

My opinion: Don’t make a wooden base for you pricy, ”unique” rum, if the bottle falls off at the slightest breeze. If you don’t bother doing it right, then don’t do it at all. Especially when it clearly cost me extra cash to buy it, and the problem was solved with rubber bands. Sigh…

Oh well, it’s not that much about the vessel. It’s more about the rum inside.

And in the bottle we find a nice mahogany coloured liquid, which generates a nice, thick ring on the inside of my snifter. Fat legs crawl lazily down, to be reunited with the rest of the liquid.

The rum comes of as a little weak on the nose, but with brown sugar and cigar smoke trying to hold the torch high.

Mild notes of danish pastries and butter in general wants a turn in the spotlight as well, before being substituted by cinnamon and vanilla, which wraps it all in a soft veil.

I was a little surprised at the lack of oak considering the proclaimed age.

It reminds a little of the Abuelo Centuria, but it is not nearly as aromatic and complex.

Hitting the palate it took me completely by surprise. The nose was mild and quite light, but it started out on the palate with a taste bomb of honey, liquorice and tobacco, which blended together very nicely.

I finally got some oaks, but coupled with the above mentioned triplets it was sweet and spicy, and not bitter or woody. A nice surprise actually.

It does have some tannins tucked away inside, but nothing too dominating.

On the more subtle side it also has fruity flavours of dried apricots and figs, as well as ripe black grapes and honeydew melon.

Finally I was also treated with the usual vanilla burst and a bit of cinnamon.

It is definitely among the sweeter rums, but the combination of the balance of the flavours and the drying tannins prevents it from being nauseating.

Ultimately, I will have to admit that it is a bit too sweet for my personal taste.

Medium length finish with flavours of syrup, tobacco and vanilla.

It starts out with some heat, but it fades rather quickly and displays nothing extraordinary, while the drying effect of the tannins cleans up some of the syrup.

A nice finish, but nothing more. And a bit sticky.

Rating and final thoughts
Weak on the nose, too sweet on the palate, and too boring on the finish. That is about all the bad things I have to say about it. It doesn’t sync very well with my personal tastes.

However (I like that word very much) …

I can’t deny that this is a good sipper. It does display a lot of very well balanced flavours and it is actually quite enjoyable.

The price is however something of a factor. At €85 it is quite expensive for a solera and you are going to have a lot of other options like the Zacapa limited editions, the Etiquetta Negra, even the Zacapa XO, Opthimus 25, Centenario 20 and 25, Diplomatico single vintage, Quorhum 30 and so on, and so on.

And that is just the rums of similarly sweet profiles. If you are into other kinds of rum, the world is pretty much your playground and €85 will take you a long way.

Finally you have to factor in that the Unhiq is only 50 cl., where every single one of the other rums mentioned are 70 cl.

So value for money is rubbish. Plain and simple.

Getting to the end I must say, that I enjoyed this rum more than I’ld like to admit. In my opinion this is on par with the Zacapa XO and the Quorhum 30, and therefore the result is a given…

Rating: 69/100

Links - Danish distributor of Unhiq.


  1. Dear Henrik,

    We are deeply sorry that you feel this way about our UNHIQ. The reason why at Oliver we produce such a great variety of rums is precisely because we want people with refined tastes like yours to find the best fit for your palate within our portfolio.
    I cordially invite you to visit our factory, whenever you come to the Dominican Republic. I will do my best to personally give you a tour around our facilities and I will be happy to answer all the inquiries you may have regarding our Solera System and our Labels.

    Maximo Lopez
    Sales Representative at Oliver Rums

  2. Maximo,

    Where can I find the Unhiq XO within the US?



  3. UNHIQ is one of the best rums I have ever tried -and i have had plenty. This article is really inaccurate, and misleading. There is a clear resentment against the company, for it fails to give an unbiased review about the rum in question. Oliver & Oliver is undoubtedly producing excellent rums. They have been recognized for their quality in competitions all around the globe. I have been in the industry for about 19 years now, and have had the opportunity to visit several factories -including Oliver's. There I tried their Opthimus, Quorhum, Cubaney, and Unhiq rums. They are all very different indeed, and i could see how each is design for different tastes. Oliver & Oliver clearly puts a lot of effort in each one of their rums, and it has given them results. This article is just an attempt to discredit Oliver & Oliver, and anyone who knows about rum and has tried Oliver rums would realize that the author doesn't know what he is talking about.

  4. I agree...not sure what the intent is but the review is definitely incorrect.

  5. Please educate me. In what way is the review incorrect? How do you determine "correct" when a review is and always will be subjective?